Statement by the Canadian Network On Cuba, October 2nd, 2014
Much bile has been spilled in the Canadian media condemning Cuba regarding the conviction and sentencing of Toronto businessman Cy Tokmakjian and two of his executives (Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche) for corruption, bribery and suborning of Cuban officials, Under Cuba law they were convicted of acts “that are contrary to the principles and ethics that should characterize commercial activity, and contravene the Cuban judicial order.” Of course, it is within the legitimate purview of anyone to question the correctness of the outcome of any judicial process, however, some other motives and motifs appear to be guiding the Globe & Mail, CBC, Toronto Sun, Financial Post, CTV and others. While articles in the monopoly media denounce the conviction on the basis of “lack of due process” and “unfairness”, this is an uniformed statement since in fact the trial went to great lengths to ensure that everything was done by the book. Most importantly, however, is that none of the media who accuse Cuba of lack of due process even attempt to address the question of whether Tomakjian actually engaged in corrupt activities.
Indeed, the conclusion they draw is that it is the Cuban government – and by extension the Cuban Revolution – that has shown itself to be corrupt. Peter Foster (Peter Foster: Risky business in Cuba, Financial Post, September 30, 2014) goes so far as to chastise Tomakjian for not realizing that he “was operating in a corrupt system that could turn on him at any time…” What disappears by sleight of hand is the guilt or innocence of Tomakijan and the fundamental issue that in Cuba the bribery of officials to gain favours in the course of business relations will not be tolerated. This is what the Canadian media accusing Cuba of lack of due process seem to be most upset about.
This case has been going on for three years and throughout that period the response of the Canadian monopoly media to the Tomakjian case is not to investigate what precisely he did, despite the fact that the trial brought out all the facts. To assert that the very fact that Cuba tried and convicted him is proof that it is Cuba that is the corrupt party is irrational to say the least. It reveals that Tomakjian’s guilt or innocence is not the central issue.
The temerity of Cuba to allege that members of the Canadian business class might actually engage in practices that are dishonest and unscrupulous is unacceptable, according to those accusing Cuba.
The media's claim is that nobody's investment will be safe in Cuba because Cuba is corrupt and will arbitrarily and self-servingly seize the assets of any investor. This is balderdash and the media know it. As does Mr. Kent, a former Harper government cabinet minister, who has also been making wild accusations against Cuba.
To try to defame Cuba's defense of its economy and way of life and opposition to corruption through the vile slander the media are currently engaged in is a thinly veiled attempt to bring Cuba to its knees by sowing doubt about its treatment of foreign investors. All who have invested in Cuba and have been honest have received a very good return on their investment. Ask all the companies that participated in building the tourist industry, or Sherrit International, which has invested in oil, gas and nickel since 1992.
Tomarkjian was found guilty and sentenced according to the laws of Cuba, as were all others found guilty in the same case. Let the substantive issues be dealt with, which is Cuba's right to engage in honest business relations with all countries and its right to defend its laws and demand ethical behaviour from those with whom it engages in business relations.
The guilt or innocence of Cy Tomakjian aside, the intensive Cuban anti-corruption campaign has resulted not only in the conviction of foreign businessmen but also Cuban government officials and representatives. Havana is exercising its sovereign right to defend its national economy and nation-building project from both internal and external sabotage.
It bears noting that for any country to try to cope with and overcome the current worldwide economic crisis in a manner that favours its people, not the global monopolies, is no small feat. This is all the more true for a country such as Cuba that is subjected to a brutal all-sided economic war from the United States. Cuba’s efforts in this regard are reflected in the latest United Nation’s Human Development Report. These annual reports are recognized as the most comprehensive and extensive determination of the well being of the world's peoples. Cuba was ranked among the nations with Very High Development. In short, Cuba is a country that effectively uses its very modest resources for the benefit of its citizens.
Perhaps, those who accuse Cuba of being a corrupt society should take note that more than 55- years ago the Cuban people closed down all the mafia-run casinos and ended the U.S. supported Batista regime; a regime that had permitted the impoverishment of the majority of Cubans and the corruption of all of Cuban life. It also bears noting that this year will be the twenty-third consecutive year that the United Nations rejects the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, which is illegal and extraterritorial, and violates even Canadian law.